Some sectors like IT and Banking face a strange paradox of an over supply of employable graduates who fall short of meeting the industry requirements for different job roles. This abundance of talent needs further skilling and training to enhance their employability quotient. In this Skill Story, Dr Santanu Paul, MD and CEO, TalentSprint, discusses various factors that have landed us in the mismatch between aspirational value of certain jobs and the sociocultural aspects of skill development. Read on to know more about how TalentSprint has accelerated the corporate careers of more than 100,000 youth from various colleges in India.
India produces one crore graduates annually across all disciplines, and that’s growing at a rate of 15% a year. Imagine the challenge we will face in 2020, with about 2 crores graduates, with an employability rate of less that 10%. While there is a huge over supply of graduates, on the demand side the expectation of quality is getting higher which the colleges are not able to meet. In my view, it is like two landmasses are drifting apart and all attempts to close them have not worked well which is why there is a need for skill development as a discipline.Overall, we need very strong interventions. The white-collar knowledge sector jobs like IT, Banking are aspirational jobs simply because, India is a very status-conscious nation and we reward certain kinds of jobs. An IT job with Rs.20,000 salary is more respectable than an on-the-field sales job with Rs.40,000. We have become conditioned to value people less when they work with their hands or in the field, we value them more if they work with computers or in an AC environment. It’s not that we don’t have enough jobs, if everybody took up the jobs that are available in formal and informal sector, we wouldn’t have had a problem with employment.
Hopefully, the aspirational issues will get addressed over time. This will need people to reflect on what skills are needed to earn a good and decent living, and work towards it. We have conditioned ourselves away from doing what we want to do, to doing what others want us to do. And therefore it is the classic Indian middle class dream of making engineers, doctors or CAs. Aspirations are normally created by people more upward than us; they become the role models. So, if a person who has been using a BMW car starts driving a Nano, it sets a new trend! Similarly, there could be new role models in jobs and careers in the coming years.
Business models for skill development in private sector
The skill development market is still undeveloped, because it is not playing by market forces; it is run by subsidies and government forces. TalentSprint has a different approach to skill development since we don’t depend on subsidized sectors. Since we focus on the knowledge sector with aspirational jobs and people are willing to pay for such training programs. But if you tell them you will train them to become a plumber or baker or construction supervisor that has low social reward, their attitude and response changes.
If we have to build a proper sustainable non-government dependent business model around skilling, that customers will pay for, then we need to go back to what the job seeker or customer wants. The customer is not the government; it is the job seeker. And if we don’t give the job seeker what they don’t immediately want then we would be doing a social service and not building a company.
If you focus on what people need, you cannot solve this. You somehow need to get people to do what they want. People don’t reflect on their true interests or aptitude; they are driven by external factors, figures that shapes their social behaviour. Counselling and advising helps very little. If you do it beyond a point, you will lose the customer.
The idea of industry-academic connect in IT sector is more like a misnomer. IT industry does not pay much attention to what the college ranking is. Most companies go to top ranking colleges like IIT, IIIT and NIT because they know that the students have high aptitude. There isn’t much emphasis on industry-focused research either. Hence the college-corporate relationship is primarily based on the consumeristic culture of placements.
Positive impact of TalentSprint
Fundamentally, we have managed to convey our value to the companies through quality and commitment. First, the companies get to hire students who have paid for their own training, which shows that they have a certain level of commitment towards learning. Second, TalentSprint does a great job in helping students understand what they want to do. So, the students are committed to the skill they want to learn. All our courses are blended – 60% deals with technical and domain specific skills, 40% are soft skills.
Third and most important, companies now value more just-in-time recruitment. Students pass out of college only once a year. If companies want someone in the middle of the year, they cannot go to colleges and ask students to start working for them – that’s where we come into the picture. Our batches start every month and each month, we have a set of students ready to enter the industry. Companies feel safe since they are confident about our talent supply and quality. The students have good scope to get selected by more than 700 companies scouting for right talent.
IT sector is one of those rare exceptions where we don’t need to go through sector skill council’s mandates. Therefore, in IT companies, before you create an Indian standard, the global standards already come up. We strongly believe in automated systems and digital technologies to reach more students and prepare them to meet global benchmarks in various skills.